Shelf Styling – My Styling Process

I recently posted our new floating shelves in our kitchen on Instagram and after a few messages, I decided it would be a fun post to walk you through my design process for shelf and table styling.

I think there are many “right ways” to style shelves. And part of what makes your decor different from another is by bending the rules to fit you & your style. I usually start by pulling everything from the shelves so I have a clean canvas & then start with big items first. Here is my mental checklist:

  1. Group similar items in uneven numbers
  2. Use varying heights/sizes to layer pieces
  3. Stick to a common color theme
  4. Add Texture
  5. Bring in unique pieces
  6. Keep everyday used items within reach.

I’ll even let you in on another little secret, I don’t always feel like my shelves are complete. My upper shelf doesn’t feel “right” to me yet, but I would rather wait for the right piece to come along, than stick something I don’t love up there just to fill the space. Using things you love, that are unique to you and your home, is what separates you from the rest of the decor world. And despite the mindset social media has given us, it doesn’t all have to be finished and perfect to share it. Share the process, and your journey, because that is part of finding your style.

Grouping things in uneven numbers: This is one of those rules I like to bend. While its a great starting point, it isn’t a must do for everything. If everything on your shelf is a group of three it is going to look overly styled and not organic.
Example: My glasses are in a group of 3 from the front, but I actually have 6 glasses up there. I stacked my books & small dipping cups in sets of three, but I stacked my bowls, plates, & water carafe’s in even numbers for balance.

Use varying heights & sizes to layer pieces: Books, small trays, cutting boards, and even dishes are a great way to add height. Place books under a mixing bowl to elevate it. Grabbing a small wooden tray to stack on top of your books or to place under some glasses is an easy way to add height.
So what if you have something you love, but it is only a set of two and the same height? Do you toss it aside and find something that better sticks to the rules? Absolutely not! I have a little trick for that too.
For example, my glass carafe’s are only a set of two, but I love them so I wanted to use them both. Even though they are the same height and I only have a group of two (bending those rules again!). So to fix this issue, I placed one back and pulled the other forward so they give off a layered look which helps keep them from feeling flat and mundane.

Stick to a common color theme: When I look at finished shelves I step back and almost blur my eyes to feel out the colors. I want there to be consistency in my colors, but I am also looking for a nice flow throughout the shelves. Try stacking your same colored/like items opposite of each other from shelf to shelf.
For example: My drinking glass are on the opposite side than my glass carafe’s. I have placed my larger black items (scale & planter) spaced diagonal from each other from shelf to shelf. On the same bottom shelf, I used both my white dipping cups and my white dishes, but they are separated by two other objects that help break up all the white.

Add texture: This is probably my favorite part. Adding texture is an important step, think of it as the part that brings your shelves to life. Pull your favorite linen napkins and stack them on a book or in a small basket. Bring in aged wooden bowls, baskets, or cutting boards to give depth and texture. Try adding plants or greenery to liven up your space.

Bring in unique pieces: Things that speak to you such as vintage finds, art, handmade items, family heirlooms. That cutting board on the counter, my husband made that. The antique scale is something I have had for years and still love it as much as the day I got it. Even my stack of books could count towards unique to me items, they are some of my favorite and go to cookbooks.

Keep everyday items within reach: Shelves need to be versatile. Keeping them pretty is great, but also keep in mind they should be functional as well. Make sure they are useful by keeping everyday things on the lower shelf so you can grab them quickly. I placed our drinking glasses close to the edge because they are right next to the sink there.

One of these days I will video my shelf styling to help give you a better visual. In the meantime, I hope this helped give you a starting point. Remember these are not so much rules as they are guidelines. Don’t be afraid to color a little outside of the lines. Like I said it is what makes you different from the next.

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